In the aftermath of last week’s “accident” at the Brennan household, the title of season two/episode seven of Bates Motel tells us everything we need to know about the episode. It’s called, “Presumed Innocent” and it is indeed a Norman-centric episode with merely a sprinkling of other plots thrown in here and there. This continues this season’s trend of narrowing its storylines, perhaps building to a major development with future psycho, Norman Bates.
There’s a single scene regarding Norma’s seat on the White Pine Bay city council as she gets the cold shoulder from the woman at City Hall when she checks in and learns she has an office. Norma is about to be interrogated by fellow councilman Max Borowitz when Sheriff Romero interrupts to tell her Norman is in custody following the death of Mr. Brennan.
Norman maintains his innocence throughout the episode, but not necessarily as the accident that it’s eventually ruled. From the beginning, he claims it was self-defense, frequently mentioning that he was trying to protect Cody from her father. Even Cody tells Norman later that her father was always going to be angry and always going to be drunk, so he shouldn’t blame himself.
It’s almost like Norman wants to claim responsibility, yet declare that he was right in doing what he did. It seems it’s everyone else who tries to convince him it was an accident, which Norman challenges at every turn. Evidence for an investigation? “Why, if it was an accident?” he asks Romero while being questioned. Perhaps this is his way of standing up against his mother, with whom he’s still furious for ruining his chances at getting his driver’s license.
There’s definitely a growing rift between mother and son. And it only gets worse when Cody tells him that whatever happens to Norman during his blackouts “scares the shit out of Norma”. Norman perceives this news as Norma keeping secrets from him and confronts her on the staircase. “Cody said you’re lying to me.” He demands to know who he is and what he does during his blackouts.
Norma admits to saying things to Cody, and that they’re true, but she says “we’re never going to talk about them”. She’s obviously in denial and does not want to face the implications about her son. It must be safer for her to keep her head in the sand. As far as we viewers go, this builds mystery around Norman Bates. We’ve seen the blackouts, but we’ve never really seen a result from them that would have Norma so scared.
The closest we came was his involvement in the death of Miss Watson. And that was solved early in the season. Or was it? It comes back to life in the last scene of this episode and we’re reminded that even though Bates Motel drops storylines like hot potatoes, they can always be picked back up at a moment’s notice.
The other story that advances in the episode is Dylan’s, which is becoming increasingly tedious. It’s not secret, apparently, that he is sleeping with the boss. Even Zane knows that she has positioned Dylan to watch him. But he warns the young stud, “If you’re going to sleep with my sister, watch your expectations.”
When Zane plans a major strike against Nick Ford, Dylan wants out. All that gets him is a rifle butt to the face. The next-to-last scene is of him lying bloodied in the grass while Ford’s warehouse erupts in gunfire in front of him. Is he being left there to take the blame or to die? Honestly, at this point, I don’t care. I just want Dylan to get a nice job in town.
While there is not one scene that stands out this week, there are two that I enjoyed more than most. The first one is when Norma confronts Cody in the bathroom at the sheriff’s station, dramatically embellishing Norman’s situation to prevent her from revealing his blackouts to the authorities. It’s a perfect example of how Norma spins things as if convincing herself will create the truth.
I find it fascinating every time.
The second is when Emma (the meddler) tells Dylan that Norman needs him. He replies, “He’s going to have to figure some things out for himself.” Dylan further states that Norma and Norman only care about each other, to which Emma responds, “I wish I had a mother and brother I could treat like shit.” Emma, Emma, Emma… we didn’t see Gunner this week, so you must need to get laid. Norman’s not mad at you anymore and thanked you for believing in him, so just mind your own business.
Ah, but if she did, we wouldn’t have one of those infuriating traits about Bates Motel. It’s one of those things that has become part of the show. You have to take some bad with the good. As long as the good outweighs the bad, though, we’ll keep watching.